Henrik Tallinder stared out onto the ice during a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 2, looking with a blank stare as the New Jersey Devils allowed three third period goals. That’s the last game he played.
Tallinder, a healthy scratch for seven games, will be in lineup tonight as the Devils face the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The Devils defenseman hasn’t sat for this long in his entire NHL career. He admitted it was difficult to wait for his chance.
“It always is,” Tallinder told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. “You can deny it as much as you want, but of course it wears on you. But you have to deal with no matter what. You still have to deal with it. You can decide where you want to go – if you’re going to whine and be a (malcontent) about it or if you’re going to do the best with the opportunity when it comes.”
He’ll replace defenseman Mark Fayne, who has struggled since the death of his grandmother early in the week.
“I think I was forcing stuff a little too much,” he told Gulitti. “Down low especially with the puck, I didn’t have too much patience and, I guess, finesse to make the correct play instead of just forcing things.”
New Jersey is looking for their seventh win in their last eight games. The Devils rebounded from a bad first period, scoring four unanswered goals to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-3, yesterday at the Prudential Center. Travis Zajac opened the scoring just 40 seconds after the opening faceoff, beating Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
Philadelphia took over after that, with Wayne Simmonds, Mike Knuble and Matt Read all scoring goals to give the Flyers a commanding 3-1 lead. New Jersey came back in the middle frame, tying the game with goals from Alexei Ponikarovsky and Patrik Elias.
David Clarkson won the game in the third period, scoring his third game-winning goal of the season on a deflection. Steve Bernier also added an empty-net goal for his fourth of the season.
The Islanders snapped a five-game losing streak Thursday, defeating the New York Rangers, 4-3, in a shootout. Six different players recorded a point, including John Tavares. He scored his eighth goal of the season during regulation, then netted the shootout winning score in the third round. Evgeni Nabakov made 36 saves.
Johan Hedberg will start the second of back-to-back games for the Devils. He’s 2-0-1 this season, allowing just two goals on 74 shots. One of those wins came against the Islanders Sunday, February 3. Hedberg shut out New York, 3-0, stopping 22 shots in the win. Bernier broke a scoreless tie with just under five minutes remaining in regulation, netting a power-play goal. He would ice the game with his second score later in the period. Clarkson also added an empty-net goal.
Hedberg hasn’t lost to the Islanders in regulation in his last ten starts, going 8-0-2. He’s 4-1-0 with a 0.81 goals-against average against New York as a Devil.
Bernier has proved invaluable against the Islanders, netting three of his four goals this season against New Jersey’s division rivals.
Even though Tallinder is playing at his expense, Fayne is happy to see the Devils veteran defenseman get a chance to play.
“He’s been playing real well in practice,” Fayne told Gulitti. “He’s been going through a tough time right now, but he’s been so positive with everybody else. He’s not taking it out on anybody. He’s been the same good teammate the whole time. It’s tough that I’m out, but I’m also happy to see him in there.”